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Dec 18, 2021 at 2.30pm UK
VfL BochumVfL Bochum
Union BerlinUnion Berlin

Masovic (20'), Soares (70')
FT(HT: 0-1)
Kruse (16')

Preview: VfL Bochum vs. Union Berlin - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: VfL Bochum vs. Union Berlin - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Saturday's Bundesliga clash between VfL Bochum and Union Berlin, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Facing each other for the first time ever in the Bundesliga, VfL Bochum and Union Berlin meet at the Ruhrstadion on Saturday afternoon.

Separated by four points and four places in the standings following the midweek round, the hosts have only lost once at home this term, so will be confident of closing the gap to their visitors from the capital.

Match preview

An impressive run of five wins from eight matches may have been undermined by a setback against struggling Arminia Bielefeld on Tuesday night, but Bochum nevertheless remain amid the mid-table pack upon their return to the top tier.

With just five points covering the first club in the relegation zone and underperforming RB Leipzig in ninth, the side managed by Thomas Reis will continue to glance over their shoulders, though, after their 2-0 midweek loss.

Most observers had cast Die Unabsteigbaren as certainties for an immediate return to the 2.Bundesliga when their campaign began in miserable fashion, but they are at least in with a shout of staying up now - largely thanks to their form at the Ruhrstadion.

Having won four of their seven home matches to date, they have only lost there to the city rivals of this weekend's opponents - being beaten by Hertha Berlin early on this season.

A total of 20 points altogether also puts Bochum on course for their best season at the elite level since 2003-04, when they improbably finished fifth to qualify for Europe.

Despite following their shock loss to basement boys Greuther Furth with a goalless draw at home to Freiburg in midweek, Union Berlin remain in the mix for a second successive European qualification - sitting eighth, just three points from the Champions League places.

A run of one win from their last five in all competitions, though, will concern coach Urs Fischer somewhat, after he recently saw his side's Europa Conference League campaign come to an end at the group stage.

Die Eisernen have won just once away from home in the league ahead of their trip to the Ruhr - conceding goals at a rate of nearly two per game - so in their final road trip before the winter break, they will be keen to improve that modest total at the expense of a promoted side.

Though this is Union's first top-flight meeting with Bochum, historically they have had the upper hand against their opponents from the West, having won 11 of the clubs' 21 previous encounters.

With a visit to Leverkusen set to follow immediately upon the resumption of Bundesliga action in January - and later a DFB Pokal tie with old foes Hertha - surely Fischer will feel the need for a morale-boosting win on Saturday.

VfL Bochum Bundesliga form:
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • L

Union Berlin Bundesliga form:
  • D
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • D

Union Berlin form (all competitions):
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • D
  • L
  • D

Team News

Fischer may make changes from the midweek blank against Freiburg, and has a full hand from which to pick, with only Laurenz Dehl still sidelined by a muscular injury sustained back in October.

Both Julian Ryerson and Max Kruse should come back into the starting XI after being rested last time out, with the latter starting behind the front pairing.

Nigeria international Taiwo Awoniyi and Sheraldo Becker are set to get the nod up front, though Kruse could instead partner the former, with Becker then being used as an impact player from the bench.

Bochum's Takuma Asano is back in contention to feature in the home side's attack, after self-isolating as a COVID-19 close contact. His progress will be monitored ahead of kickoff, but he is not set to start.

Danny Blum (muscular), Saulo Decarli (shoulder) and Simon Zoller remain unavailable, though, while Danilo Soares is struggling with a back problem and is a major doubt to be involved.

Six-goal top scorer Sebastian Polter is set to lead the line against a club he represented for three-and-a-half seasons earlier in his career.

VfL Bochum possible starting lineup:
Riemann; Gamboa, Lampropoulos, Masovic, Stafylidis; Pantovic, Losilla, Rexhbecaj; Antwi-Adjei, Polter, Holtmann

Union Berlin possible starting lineup:
Luthe; Friedrich, Baumgartl, Knoche; Ryerson, Khedira, Promel, Giesselmann; Kruse; Becker, Awoniyi

We say: VfL Bochum 1-1 Union Berlin

Bochum are a proven force on home soil, and can end an excellent year with another valuable point at their Ruhrstadion headquarters.

Die Unabsteigbaren have conceded just five goals in seven outings as hosts so far, which means Union's chances of scoring more than once are slim - surely resulting in a low-scoring draw.

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